Originally Posted by marny_navis
Though they lost (98-103 for those of you that didnít catch the score), the Spurs played very well. Ginobili, Oberto, and Mahinmi were out with injuries, so the fact that San Antonio was able to put up 98 points was a victory in itself.
To start the game, Pop had Michael Finley foul Shaq immediately, drawing a big smile from both the coach and the center, and showing that there was no spite between the two teams. After that, however, it was down to business, and there werenít many smiles until the game was through.
In the first quarter, both teams stuggled to knock down shots. Duncan led the team with 8 points, knocking down a 17-footer to start the game and added three more inside baskets. Big man Matt Bonner, who normally sees little floor time other than what I like to refer to as ď***** minutes,Ē was able to contribute 8 points in the first half as well, filling in for Oberto and Mahinmi in the post. He knocked down two triples and a hook shot, and for most of the game was not hesitant to shoot, ending with nine field goal attempts. His defense was poor, as can be expected from him; heís not blessed with size or athletic ability, making it extremely tough for him to have any hopes of contending with possibly the best offensive big man in the NBA in Amare Stoudemire. Tony Parker contributed 8 for the half, Duncan 13, and the Spurs entered the lockerroom within 3 points of the Suns.
Both Duncan and Parker came out of the intermission red-hot. Duncan hit four jumpers from 14 feet and out in the first three minutes (which I didnít get to see, as I was late getting back to the TV). Parker was able to close out the quarter with 9 of the Spurs final 12 points. The duo finished with 22 of the Spursí 27 points in the third quarter, and would have given the Spurs a one-point lead had it not been for Grant Hillís buzzer-beating three pointer to close the quarter.
In the 4th, Duncan and Parker were as unstoppable as ever. Parker led the way for the most part, scoring 14 points and was able to counter seemingly every possession that the Suns were able to score on. Duncan contributed 6, but due to Amare dominating in a strech of three straight baskets (including a free throw), the Spurs werenít able to come back, and lost the game by five.
The Spursí duo had to shoulder way too much of the load tonight, but two role players were able to step up their games: Roger Mason Jr. and Matt Bonner.
Mason had a very efficient night, scoring 12 points on 4/7 shooting, at 75% from long range. What impresses me most is that he was able to fill out the other areas of the stat sheet; I had thought he was going to be a shooter-only, handle the ball a little bit and play solid defense. He did that and more, posting 3 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks off the bench. If Popís still deliberating whether or not to give Mason a chance to start, he definitely made his case for the job tonight. I think Coach will have him continue to get adjusted to playing with the team, and might see how he does with the starters later on in the season.
Bonner (my favorite player in the NBA) didnít score any more points after he got his 8, which was partly due to the fact that he was in foul trouble for part of the second half. Not much can be expected from him this season, and since heís such a defensive liability I canít see him being anything more than the 4th big man in the rotation, I doubt heíll have much of an impact as the season progresses. Heís proven to be a good shooter, and grabbed 7 boards in his 30 minutes, but his skillset just isnít good enough to get him the time on the court to be successful. Situational shooter when we need some points or mopup boy earning his ***** minutes is going to be his role for the rest of the year.
Bruce Bowen didnít contribute a whole lot in this game. He played only 21 minutes, and had two rebounds and a steal, finishing the game scoreless. I didnít pay much attention to his defense (more focused on watching Bonner), but if he was on Nash (which I saw he was to start the game), he didnít do a bad job keeping him from scoring, but couldnít prevent him from spreading the ball around, as Nash finished with 13 dimes.
Kurt Thomas got 7 rebounds, but he wasnít a factor on offense either, with only two points coming off of a layup in the 3rd. Udoka (2 points, 5 boards in 16 minutes) and Jacque Vaughn (2 points, 3 assists in 12 minutes) didnít do much for the Spurs off the bench offensively either in their limited time. I think both will continue to see limited action this year, as Popovich will likely want to try and get minutes for both George Hill at point and Michael Finley/RMJ on the wings as the season progresses, and when Manu comes back Finley could take up some of Imeís minutes at small forward.
Both George Hill and Desmon Farmer didnít play, so Iíll have to wait a while to get an idea on how both play (though I did catch some of Hillís Summer League action). Same for Mahinmi when he gets back (who I hear is an energetic big that will help with rebounds and shot blocking in the middle, as well as provide us with some athleticism in the post).
What I think separated us and Phoenix this game was depth. They played 10 very good players, and their bench players (Hill, Diaw, and Barbosa) could easily be starters. They finished with five players in double figures and were able to spread the ball out to Barbosa, Hill, etc. and not rely upon their Big Three too much. The Spurs had Duncan and Parker account for over 2/3 of the points, with Mason being the only other player to hit double figures. The good news is that weíve got three rotational players that will be back with us soon (well, Ginobili not so soon), so not much can be obtained about the Spursí depth from this one game. When those three players get back, weíll be deeper in the paint, and weíll have another star to help shoulder the scoring load.
Though itís only been one game, Iím excited with the way the Spurs played, convinced that Duncan hasnít lost a step, and that if we can get everyone healthy for the playoffs, weíve got another shot at a championship run. Tony Parker said in an interview about NBA Live 2009 that this is probably the last year the Spursí core will remain together, so we as Spurs fans should cherish every moment we have with these players, because believe me, things are going to go downhill big time when they leave.
Thatís my recap for the Phoenix Suns game on 10/29/08, I plan on making one of these for every Spurs game I watch, which will probably be about 30-40, depending on how many games I watch online. Hope you enjoyed it(even though 99% of you probably didnít even read the whole thing)!